Hearthstone Gamer Banned Over Hong Kong Protest Support

Blizzard Suspends Hearthstone Player For Hong Kong Support, Pulls Prize Money

Blizzard has removed Blitzchung from Grandmasters and banned him from competing in Hearthstone following his on-stream Hong Kong protest

Blizzard chose to ban Hong Kong-based professional gamer Chung Ng Wai, who plays under the name "Blitzchung", after its Asia-Pacific Grandmasters tournament Monday. The political turmoil spilled over into esports this week, as Hearthstone grandmaster blitzchung was not only banned for an entire year, but also had his prize winnings stripped. Then on Tuesday, the company announced it had suspended Blitzchung for violating Heartstone's official esports rules, which can penalize a player for offending a "portion or group of the public" or causing damages to Blizzard's image. "We will also immediately cease working with both casters".

Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard's sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player's prize total to $0 Dollars ($0), in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard's Website Terms.

Of course, Blizzard isn't actually concerned about following the letter of the law to a tee. Maybe if Blizzard's stock takes a nosedive for a few weeks they'll remember American companies are expected to stand up for the most basic values they have benefitted from. China is an unfathomably lucrative market from a business perspective.

Grandmasters is the highest tier of Hearthstone Esports and we take tournament rule violations very seriously.

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The ban came days before Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey caused an global stir by expressing similar support for the protesters who have been demonstrating for four straight months. "Stand with Hong Kong".

Tech giant Tencent and Chinese state television said they wouldn't broadcast Rockets games. It might not matter.

Blizzard Entertainment, a US -based video game developer that's a part of the entertainment company Activision Blizzard, is the publisher behind the digital collectible card game Hearthstone.

Blizzard's ruling is taking heat from everywhere outside of China.

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Hearthstone fans, it's safe to say, aren't happy, with the game's subreddit now consisting of thread after thread from users saying they're quitting in protest. The Blizzard subreddit quietly went private today, presumably in response to the controversy. The hashtag #BoycottBlizzard is trending on Twitter. On the official Blizzard website, the company promises to "think globally" and that "every voice matters".

In an earlier statement to Inven Global, Blitzchung said "As you know there are serious protests in my country now".

"I know what my action on stream means", the statement concluded.

He added: "It could cause me a lot of trouble, even my personal safety in real life".

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I've not seen any pros participating in the boycott at the moment, though CCG pro Brian Kibler tweeted that he's being thinking about the situation and will have more to say soon. Punishing Blizzard for its behavior could help send a signal to other companies that acting as agents of the Chinese state carries a cost and that they need to think carefully before throwing Hong Kong under the bus.

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